April 5, 2011 – MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC (WBTV) – Despite criticism they hadn’t given nearby residents a fair chance to weigh in, Mecklenburg County commissioners voted 8 to 1 Tuesday night to spend $15 million to expand a landfill in the Ballantyne area. Right now, the county-owned Foxhole Landfill, which is located on Highway 521 just north of the South Carolina line, only accepts construction debris.

The commissioners’ vote Tuesday night now makes it possible that all residential trash will start going there as early as next summer. If that were to happen, it would mean extra traffic on Highway 521 which is already extremely busy.

Cary Saul, the director of Mecklenburg’s Land Use and Environmental Services, says the intention is not to use the Foxhole Landfill as a place to dump the trash of every resident in Mecklenburg County.

Saul says he only wants the county to have the option to do that if other options don’t work out.

One reason commissioners voted on the expansion Tuesday night had to do with the proposed ReVenture project, which if approved, would be built in western Mecklenburg County.

The ReVenture proposal involves burning trash and turning it into electricity. In order to get approval, ReVenture needs to have another landfill to send the trash it can’t burn. Foxhole may now wind up being that extra landfill.

Although the folks behind ReVenture say it would be good for the environment, critics worry it would actually cause more pollution.

They also question why the county would spend $15 million in part to help ReVenture out especially since ReVenture hasn’t even been approved yet.

Due to concerns about ReVenture, commissioners also voted Tuesday night to spend $100,000 on an independent study to determine whether ReVenture really is a good idea or not.

Right now, Mecklenburg County sends its trash to a landfill near Charlotte Motor Speedway in Cabarrus County, but the agreement to send trash there expires on June 30, 2012.

County leaders say they’re not certain if it will be a good idea to use that landfill again, in part because of uncertainty about the price.

They believe having the Ballantyne landfill available would likely cause the Cabarrus landfill to offer a lower price, since it would know Mecklenburg had other options. The only commissioner to vote against the Foxhole landfill expansion and the ReVenture study Tuesday night was Republican Bill James, who represents the Ballantyne area on the commission.

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